James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, [11 January] 1791

To Thomas Jefferson

[11 January 1791]

T: J. to J. M. Dr.
To advances for him on the road to Philada. £14..5..6
To Horse
  Credit   By 50 dollars   £18..15–
Balance to T. J.      £ 4..9..6. Pa. Curry.

If the intended charge of £25. for the Horse is not cancelled by the presumptive evidence that he was not sound at the time of sending him, the balance will lie on the other side.1 The scruples of J. M. on this point are not affected, & are enforced by his having discovered after the death of the Horse from the servant who accompanied Mr. J. that on his return the Horse was taken very sick & drenched, and from the symptoms mentioned it can scarcely be doubted that the malady must have been the prelude of that which proved fatal. To get rid of all embarrassment on either side, J. M. thinks it essential that a common friend shd. hear & decide the case, and for that purpose insists that it be stated to such an one by both, on the first convenient occasion. Mr. Hawkins occurs as an eligible umpire. The map & 1st. chapter of the Magazine seem to contain Pond’s western discoveries & excur[s]ions.2

RC (DLC). Undated (listed under date of September 1790 in the Index to the James Madison Papers), but clearly falls in sequence between Jefferson’s letters to JM of 10 and 12 Jan. 1791. Docketed by Jefferson, with computations in his hand (see n. 1).

1Jefferson insisted on paying for the horse. Below his docket he made the following calculations: he converted the £25 for the horse to $83.33, the £4.9.6 to $11.93, and added them to obtain the sum of $95.26. He should have subtracted $11.93, for this balance was in his favor (see Jefferson to JM, 12 Jan. 1791 and n. 1).

2JM referred to a “Description of the Country from Lake Superior to Cook’s River,” preceded by a map showing the water communication between Lake Superior and Slave Lake, published in the New-York Magazine, I (Dec. 1790), 677–80 (reprinted from the March 1790 issue of the Gentleman’s Magazine; see note by Grace L. Nute in Minnesota History, XIV [1933], 81–84). The writer said he obtained his information from Peter Pond (1740–ca. 1807), a fur trader and explorer who had lived for many years in the Upper Mississippi region. Pond had recently returned to his native Connecticut. President Ezra Stiles of Yale reported a meeting with Pond in a letter to Representative Abraham Baldwin dated 30 Apr. 1790. Baldwin showed the letter to JM, who copied it for his files (DLC [Series 6, Notes on Exports and Navigation]). In his old age Pond wrote a narrative of his western exploits.

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